Kobe Bryant, Nick Young

Kobe Bryant gets really mean with his Lakers ‘teammates’


The 2006-07 Los Angeles Lakers drove Kobe Bryant absolutely mad. He’s called Smush Parker “the worst” and bemoaned the attitude of Kwame Brown, two teammates on that squad who started for at least portions of the season. The maniacally competitive Kobe just didn’t take to having bad teammates.

And that team had a winning record!

Obviously, this year’s 22-44 outfit doesn’t suit him any better.

This strikes me as a kidding-but-definitely-not-kidding situation, Kobe’s way of expressing his sincere dissatisfaction in a way that comes across as playful.

But ask Parker and Brown whether Kobe is ever truly kidding. They weren’t long for the Lakers once it became clear Kobe wanted them gone.

Nick Young and the Lakers actually contributing this season might meet similar fates. Kobe has already reportedly stated his preference for Los Angeles to fire Mike D’Antoni. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be any more forgiving of these infuriating players, either. Kobe has played just six games this season, and considering how many new acquisitions the Lakers added since last year, he’s really had no chance to build loyalty to many of them.

The Lakers are 22 games under .500. They probably won’t beat the Spurs on Wednesday, but their following four games – vs. Wizards, vs. Magic, vs. Knicks, at Bucks – are all winnable. Sweep those four, and the Lakers would be 19 games under .500. That’s still a longshot, but it’s possible.

Just in case, Young better prepare what conversations he wants to have with Kobe at that point. The schedule toughens again, and the Lakers could easily slip further below that 20-game mark. Waiting for next season might be a luxury Young doesn’t have.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.